Kevin Ache – Young Adults Pastor
As the World Cup draws to an end, we’ve seen some amazing matches played throughout the tournament. As an avid soccer fan and U.S. supporter, I’m still recovering from the heartbreaking loss to Belgium. Along with USA’s respectable run in the tournament, I’ve also been surprised with how many American fans have embraced the sport, and how many have not. Soccer among American youth is growing, and now children who grew up loving the sport 20 years ago, are now coaching it and having children who play soccer as well. People are getting a better understanding of the game, and are now able to pass that information on. With the mass popularity of the World Cup, I’m starting to see more and more people start to appreciate and love the beautiful game.
Facebook alone reported over 1 billion World Cup-related posts, comments, and likes that the 220 million people on Facebook have made in the course of conversation since the tournament began on June 12. “There is absolutely no doubt that soccer is an ascendant sport,” said Scott Guglielmino, ESPN’s senior vice president of programming. “And much of that I believe is due to the shifting demographic in our country.”
But not everyone loves soccer, and not everyone understands it. I may be biased, but I could imagine getting bored watching a ball fly around a huge field, and maybe only seeing a few “scores,” or even a game that ends in a tie. “What kind of a sport has no winner?!” But you can only truly appreciate a sport by understanding its subtleties. In the context of the World Cup, you can only start to really love soccer when you start to understand all of the rules, tactics and strategies, and can recognize talent in individual players. How can you love something you don’t understand?
For example, have you ever watched a cricket match? It’s a very unfamiliar sport to most of us, and its popularity here in the States is very limited. I once watched an “inning” of cricket and had no particular clue about anything that was happening. It wasn’t until a friend of mine from India was able to explain to me a little bit about what was transpiring that I started to understand why it is so popular in other parts of the world. I was then able to intently watch and enjoy the rest of the match!
The more you know, the more you love.
As I reflect on this concept, I’m taken back to the beginnings of my relationship with Christ. I remember entering college thinking that I knew everything (who doesn’t?) and my relationship with Jesus was no different. I could go through the motions to fit right in, I knew the words to most worship songs, and took communion. I was baptized, served in the student ministries on the weekends, and could even quote John 3:16.
I knew the overall message of the Bible, but I didn’t take time to dig further and understand the details, and really apply it to my life. It wasn’t until I took time each day to spend with God studying His Word that I began to see my relationship with Jesus develop. It wasn’t until I started to see and recognize the subtleties of God’s Word that I began to see and recognize the guarantee of God’s Word.
As Christians, we are encouraged to avoid complacency in our spiritual walk with God; to stay in a constant state of spiritual hunger. Jesus said in Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” As a 26 year old who lives on his own and is a terrible cook, I can tell you that hunger and thirst are strong motivators in this earthly life. But how much more motivation they must be in our spiritual life?! Psalm 107:9 says,
“for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.”
When we continue to read and study God’s Word, we will continue to mature in our faith, deepening our relationship with Jesus. These are the good things! The most encouraging part about the Bible is that God can continue to teach and guide us no matter how many times we’ve read it. He teaches us new things in the times of our life we need it most, and challenges us in our walk when we start to coast. The more we study God’s Word, the more we will understand it. And I’m surely convinced that the more you know, the more you love.
What are you doing to understand and know God’s Word further? What kind of Bible studies work for you and your life group?